Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been attracting considerable attentionwith the expectation of improved supply chain visibility for both suppliers and retailers. It willalso improve the consumer shopping experience by making it more likely that the productsthey want to purchase are available.Recent announcements from some key retailers have brought the interest in RFID to theforefront. This guide is an attempt to familiarize the reader with RFID technology so that theycan be asking the right questions when considering the technology.
What is RFID?
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a method of identifying unique items using radiowaves. Typical RFID systems are made up of 2 major components: readers and tags. Thereader, sometimes called the interrogator, sends and receives RF data to and from the tag viaantennas. A reader may have multiple antennas that are responsible for sending andreceiving the radio waves. The tag, or transponder, is made up of the microchip that storesthe data, an antenna, and a carrier to which the chip and antenna are mounted.RFID technology is used today in many applications, including security and access control,transportation and supply chain tracking. It is a technology that works well for collectingmultiple pieces of data on items for tracking and counting purposes in a cooperativeenvironment.
Is All RFID Created Equal?
There are many different versions of RFID that operate at different radio frequencies. Thechoice of frequency is dependent on the requirements of the application.Three primary frequency bands have been allocated for RFID use.
Low Frequency(125/134KHz) – Most commonly used for access control and assettracking.
Mid-Frequency(13.56 MHz) – Used where medium data rate and read ranges arerequired.
Ultra High-Frequency(850 MHz to 950 MHz and 2.4 GHz to 2.5 GHz) – offer the longestread ranges and high reading speeds. Applications for RFID within the supply chain can be found at multiple frequencies anddifferent RFID solutions may be required to meet the varying needs of the marketplace.Many of today’s RFID technologies cannot reliably cover areas wider than 4 to 5 feet, makingthem unsuitable for wide openings that are the norm in manufacturing, distribution and store